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US sending 1,000 more troops to Middle East


Written by Zachary Halaschak | June 17, 2019 08:22 PM

The U.S. is sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East amid increasing tension between the U.S. and Iran. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced the additional forces in a statement Monday evening, saying that the increase came at the urging of U.S. military leaders in the Middle East.

“In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East,” Shanahan said in a statement.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Shanahan said.

“We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats,” he added.

A pair of oil tankers were attacked earlier this month in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. and the U.K. have placed blame for the attack on Iran. The move came just hours before Iran reportedly fired a surface-to-air missile at a U.S. drone. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the tanker attacks on the “maximum pressure campaign” that the U.S. is waging against the Iranian regime, targeting its financial industry.

“Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted,” Pompeo told reporters last week. “The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation and the targeting of innocent civilians.”

Last month, four other tankers were targeted by Iran in what Pompeo described as an Iranian attempt to inflate international oil prices.

The U.S. also recently deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East.

Classified Iran briefing becomes heated as Trump team clashes with Democrats


Reported by Joel Gehrke | May 21, 2019

A classified Senate briefing on Iranian plots against the United States turned into a tense clash between top U.S. officials and lawmakers frustrated with President Trump’s strategy toward Tehran.

“I would say there was a lot of heat in that room,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Washington Examiner following the Tuesday afternoon briefing.

Key congressional Democrats suggested that President Trump’s administration was preparing for military conflict with the regime based on faulty intelligence or even false pretenses after ambiguous U.S. warnings that Iranian proxies might attack American personnel in Iraq. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sought to allay that suspicion in separate meetings, first with House lawmakers and then the Senate Tuesday afternoon.

“Today I walked them through what the Department of Defense has been doing since May 3, when we received credible intelligence about threats to our interests in the Middle East and to American forces, and how we acted on that credible intelligence,” Shanahan told reporters after the Senate briefing. “That intelligence has borne out in attacks, and I would say it’s also deterred attacks. We have deterred attacks based on our re-posturing of assets, deterred attacks against American forces.”

The controversy shifted in the briefing to complaints that they didn’t communicate with Congress enough in recent weeks and a broader protest against the administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was among the most aggressive in raising the specter of being misled into a conflict with Iran.

“Most Americans know way back when we were lied to about the situation in Vietnam and we went into a war which ended up costing us 59,000 lives, based on a lie,” he said. “In 2003, we were lied to in terms of Iraq supposedly having weapons of mass destruction.”

Sanders refused to answer whether he believes such lies are being told now. “I won’t talk about what we heard in the meeting,” he said. “But let me just say that I worry very much that, intentionally or unintentionally, we create a situation in which a war will take place.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer avoided that controversy entirely, focusing only on the frustration that the administration didn’t provide more information to lawmakers over the last three weeks.

“I told the people who were briefing us that I thought the consultation with the American people and the Congress was inadequate,” the New York Democrat told reporters in a brief appearance, without taking additional questions. “Both the American people and the Congress read about a lot of actions in the newspapers and had no idea what was going on. I told them they had to make it better next time.”

Shanahan acknowledged that desire for more information. “We heard feedback that they’d like more conversation,” he said. “They’d also like us to be more communicative with the American public, and we agreed to do more of that.”

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, conceded that the meeting was a “very helpful” survey of the intelligence reports and U.S. responses. Another lawmaker confirmed that the meeting was testy, but in this telling the confrontation was bipartisan and focused more on the administration’s policies than suspicions that they are fabricating intelligence.

“A number of them questioned the conclusions of the administration about the reaction of the Iranians and what it might lead to,” a Democratic senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said after the briefing. “I think there’s a lot of us with real misgivings about how serious this is and how much is a creation of the administration’s own provocative policy.”

Shanahan stressed that the administration, which has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf and threatened devastating consequences for attacks on Americans, is trying to avoid a conflict.

“Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” he told reporters. “We do not want the situation to escalate.”

Cruz kept the focus on Democratic hostility to Trump and their fidelity to the nuclear agreement that former President Barack Obama’s team negotiated with Iran.

“Far too many congressional Democrats are invested in appeasement for Iran, which manifests in effectively defending the mullahs against maximum pressure,” he told the Washington Examiner.

‘Nobody Will Go Back’: Christians Flee Middle East After Fall of Islamic State


Reported by EDWIN MORA |

Iranian Christian worshippers attend the Christmas mass at the Saint Joseph Chaldean-Assyrian Catholic church, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 25, 2017. Iranian Christians are a minority and recognized by the constitution in the Muslim country and are represented in the parliament. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
 

The number of Christians in the birthplace of their faith, the greater Middle East, continues to plummet months after the Islamic State, which waged a genocidal campaign against Christians, lost its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, Breitbart News learned from various experts, including an archbishop.

“Unfortunately, it can be stated that the Islamic State group’s anti-Christian campaign was very successful in Iraq, and to a certain extent, successful in Syria,” John Hajjar, the co-chair of the American Mideast Coalition for Democracy (AMCD) and co-director of the Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC), told Breitbart News.

“I think we have no more hope,”Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the diocesan legate in America’s capital and ecumenical director for the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church of America, also told Breitbart News, referring to the future of Christianity in its Middle East cradle. “Middle East Christians have no nation that protects them openly.”

The number of Christians in Middle East-North Africa (MENA), as a component of the overall Muslim-majority population, has dropped substantially — from about ten percent in 1900 to between two and four percent now.

There are different estimates for the overall number of Christians that vary from about 12 million in the Middle East alone to about 20 million in MENA, Breitbart News learned from the experts and data from U.S. government and independent sources.

“The future for Christians right now is terrible — a Middle East without Christians. We are going to have churches without Christians as museums for tourists. There will be no Christians left,” the archbishop warned, echoing other analysts who have constantly cautioned that Christianity is on the verge of extinction in the Middle East.

“The number of Christians in the Middle East has already dropped extensively,” he further declared, accusing church leaders of inflating the actual numbers of Christ followers in the region to minimize the fact that Christianity is on the brink of extinction.

The bishop urged U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to do even more to help Middle East Christians.

Contradicting assertions by the Trump administration, the Church leader said, “People are not coming back. I can assure you that nobody will go back.”

The Trump administration has disbursed billions in funding to help victims of ISIS genocide, namely Christians and Yazidis, but the bishop told Breitbart News it is “not enough.”

“Trump is going to be a hero for the Christians in the Middle East if he takes more action,” he said.

Addressing President Trump, Archbishop Aykazian added, “Please help the Christians. They need your help and once you move one of your fingers the entire Arabic world will thank you. If he does such a thing, it is going to change everything. If he doesn’t, they will suffer.”

“The ball is in Trump’s court,” he further said.

In Iraq, which experts say has experienced the most dramatic drop in Christians due to jihadis and Iran-allied groups, Aykazian told Breitbart News that number has decreased from 1.6 million to less than 100,000, marking a drop of more than 90 percent.

“A similar situation is taking place in Syria’s Aleppo where there has also been a drop of more than 90 percent in Christians, from 360,000 to about 25,000 now,” he said, noting, “The church leaders don’t want to say those statements because they fear their followers will be disillusioned.”

ISIS’s genocide campaign targeted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, primarily Christians and Yazidis, killing tens of thousands of them and taking some hostages as sex slaves.

“They [Christians] realized just how insecure they are,” Nina Shea, a religious freedom expert at the Hudson Institute, told Breitbart News. “Their own governments fail to protect them, and ISIS gained popular support within some neighboring major Sunni areas, like Mosul.”

Archbishop Aykazian said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi “so far has been the best leader in the Middle East for defending Christians.” he said, adding, “The biggest Christian majorities are in Egypt.”

Shea pointed out, “Egypt retains ten million Coptic Christians. That is the only place where I see a certain future for them [Christians].”

“In a generation, Egypt may be the only remaining country with a robust Christian community that traces its roots to the earliest Christian church,” Shea added. “Elsewhere in the Middle East, only remnants of these ancient communities may survive.”

Nevertheless, Shea and the bishop acknowledged that, even in Egypt, Christians are confronting the spread of Sunni extremism and anti-Christian bigotry. The ongoing war against Islamic terrorism continues to kill, wound, and push Christians out of their historical homelands in the greater Middle East, even in Egypt.

“More recently, after the Arab Spring and with the rise of ISIS, tens of thousands of Christians were killed in Iraq and Syria,” Hajjar said. “Close to 1 million Christians in the region have gone into exile.”

“Following multiple terrorist attacks in Egypt against the Copts, many Christian Egyptians also emigrated from their country,” Hajjar continued. “We can estimate that more than 25-30 percent of Christians in the Middle East have been affected by the recent wars and conflicts.”

The experts also attributed the ongoing demise of Christianity in the Middle East to certain governments’ disdain towards followers of Christianity and their refusal to protect them.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly designated Christians as “enemies of the state.” In Iraq, the country that experienced the sharpest drop in the number of Christ followers in recent years, Baghdad-sanctioned Iran-allied Shiite militias have reportedly taken Christian lands and are harassing them.

Referring to the countries that have experienced the largest decline in Christians, Hajjar named Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. Similar to Hajjar’s list, the bishop said, “Iraq is number one, Lebanon is number two, and Syria is number three.”

The experts conceded that the Trump administration had done more to help Middle East Christians than his predecessor, but they argued that Christians are far from protected and more can be done.

 

GREAT NEWS: President Trump Announces Release of Hostage Danny Burch from Yemen


Reported by John Hayward | Monday February 25, 2019

URL of the original posting site: https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/02/25/president-trump-announces-release-hostage-danny-burch-yemen/

American held hostage in Yemen freed: Trump
AFP SAUL LOEB

President Donald Trump on Monday announced the release of Danny Burch, an American citizen who has been held hostage in Yemen since 2017. Trump thanked the United Arab Emirates for assisting with Burch’s liberation and said his administration has now secured the freedom of 20 Americans held captive in various countries.

Trump delivered the good news on Monday through his preferred social media platform, Twitter:

Danny Burch was taken from his car by a squad of gunmen in broad daylight on the streets of Yemen’s capital Sanaa in September 2017. A native of East Texas, Burch was 63 years old at the time of his abduction and had been living in Yemen for several years while working as an engineer for the Yemeni Safer oil company. Burch converted to Islam during his time in Yemen and married a Yemen woman. The couple has three children, the oldest of whom was 12 when he was taken.

The abduction occurred in an area controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents who drove Yemen’s internationally-recognized government out of Sanaa. The Houthis initially denounced the kidnapping as a “criminal and cowardly act” and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, but were eventually revealed to be holding him prisoner.

Burch was transferred from Yemen to Oman in January 2018, traveling in the company of a senior Houthi official. This event was widely described as the Houthis “releasing” Burch, but he was evidently unable to return to his family until today. A March 2018 briefing from CriticalThreats.org stated the Houthi official who traveled to Oman with Burch was a negotiator named Mohammed Ali al-Houthi and noted the timing of Burch’s purported “release” coincided with “renewed al-Houthi overtures for negotiations.” Salam subsequently left Oman for Iran and met with Iranian officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

At the time of this writing, the White House has not clarified Burch’s status since January 2018 or detailed the negotiations that ultimately reunited him with his family.

Today’s Politically INCORRECT Cartoon by A.F. Branco


A.F. Branco Cartoon – Brave New World

Liberals always like to remind us we’re all children of immigrants but for many, they didn’t have welfare and food stamps available when they came here.

Food Stamps and Welfare for ImmigrantsPolitical Cartoons by A.F. Branco ©2019.
More A.F. Branco Cartoons at The Daily Torch.

A.F. Branco 2019 13-Month Calendar <—- Order

A.F.Branco Coffee Table Book <—- Order Here.

Donations/Tips accepted and appreciated –  $1.00 – $5.00 – $10 – $100 –  it all helps to fund this website and keep the cartoons coming. – THANK YOU!

A.F. Branco has taken his two greatest passions, (art and politics) and translated them into the cartoons that have been seen all over the country, in various news outlets including “Fox News”, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and “The Washington Post.” He has been recognized by such personalities as James Woods, Sarah Palin, Larry Elder, Lars Larson, and even the great El Rushbo.

Today’s Politically INCORRECT Cartoon by A.F. Branco


A.F. Branco Cartoon – Blind Ambition

The saga continues; Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer are blinded by politics and their hate for President Trump in regard to border security and Protecting U.S. citizens.

Pelosi and Schumer Blinded by PoliticsPolitical Cartoon by A.F. Branco ©2019.
More A.F. Branco Cartoons at The Daily Torch.

A.F. Branco 2019 13-Month Calendar <—- Order

A.F.Branco Coffee Table Book <—- Order Here.

A.F. Branco has taken his two greatest passions, (art and politics) and translated them into the cartoons that have been seen all over the country, in various news outlets including “Fox News”, MSNBC, CBS, ABC and “The Washington Post.” He has been recognized by such personalities as James Woods, Sarah Palin, Larry Elder, Lars Larson, and even the great El Rushbo.

Seventeen Burned Bodies Appear Near Border as Democrats Say We Don’t Need a Wall


Reported By Ben Marquis | January 10, 2019 at 4:25pm

URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournal.com/ct/seventeen-burned-bodies-appear-near-border-democrats-say-dont-need-wall/

Burned Car | Ilya Andriyanov / Shutterstock(Ilya Andriyanov / Shutterstock)

Democrats and the media immediately set about disputing Trump’s labeling of the border situation as a “crisis,” part of their overtly biased effort to instantly “fact-check” every word or statistic uttered by the president in the brief speech, and — coincidentally? — all seemed to arrive at the same conclusion: There is no real crisis at the border, only a “manufactured crisis” brought about purposefully by Trump’s actions, or some such nonsense like that.

Of course, to follow along with the media’s bouncing ball on this one, everyone must ignore the fact that the same liberal media loudly trumpeted the “crisis” at the border in 2013 and 2014 — when they were supporting comprehensive immigration reform and amnesty for illegal immigrants — or their hollering about a “crisis” on the border through much of 2017 and 2018 when Trump began to crack down on illegal border crossings and deportations ticked up.

In truth, however, the only thing “manufactured” about all of this is the Democrats ‘obstinate opposition to the president and their refusal to acknowledge the basic and undeniable facts of what is occurring on and around the porous and lightly defended southern border.

Case in point, Reuters reported on Thursday that at least 20 dead bodies — 17 of which had been badly burned — were discovered on Wednesday in the Mexican city of Ciudad Miguel Aleman, which is located a mere 56 miles across the Rio Grande River from the U.S. border city of McAllen, Texas, where President Trump visited with U.S. Border Patrol agents and other officials on Thursday.

Mexican authorities are reportedly investigating what has all the appearances of a deadly battle between members of two rival gangs in the area, gangs that routinely play in a role in the illicit cross-border excursions that bring illegal aliens, criminals, drugs, weapons and even terrorists into this nation.

The suspected gang-related massacre even drew a mention from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at his daily news conference on Thursday, and though he didn’t offer up much in the way of specifics, he did say that security officials would provide more information at a later date or time.

Reuters noted that according to one Mexican security official, five burned-out vehicles were also discovered along with the 20 dead bodies, though the outlet noted that a separate Mexican security official had reportedly counted as many as 21 dead bodies at the scene. The grisly scene was located in the Tamaulipas region of Mexico, one of the more violent states in that nation that has been controlled by dangerous criminal cartels and gangs for years. Those groups exert a great deal of control over drug and human trafficking across the border in that region, and are well-known for running extortion rackets on local residents and exploiting migrants passing through the area for whatever can be gained.

When not engaged in those border-related crimes, the cartels and gangs are fighting violently among each other or waging war against Mexican security forces, violence that has claimed tens of thousands of lives — some innocent, some not so much — over the years.

Obviously, incidents like this one — and this bloody incident is far from an isolated occurrence — are what President Trump is referencing when he speaks of the “crisis” at the border while demanding Congress appropriate the necessary funds to construct a border wall where needed and to increase border security measures in other ways.

Yet, based solely on their reflexive opposition to all things Trump, many talking heads in the liberal media staunchly refuse to acknowledge as a “crisis” what their own colleagues are quietly reporting on a near-daily basis.

Indeed, some in the media have even adopted a sort of “Don’t believe your lying eyes” attitude when it comes to their anti-Trump reporting on the border, as evidenced by a ridiculous tweet from CNN’s Jim Acosta that actually seemed to prove the president’s point about how necessary and effective a border wall truly is.

In several other tweets after that, Acosta hyped up how safe the border town of McAllen is — while studiously ignoring the obvious fact that McAllen is safe because it has a border wall and other barriers obstructing those who would illicitly cross over.

Unfortunately, the wall and other barriers along the border in the McAllen region that keep it so safe only extend for so long, and eventually give way to mere chain-link fencing or nothing at all, meaning those who wish to cross the border illegally need only walk around the end to do so. Anyone with common sense and intellectual honesty can plainly see that and realize Trump is absolutely correct to want to address this security crisis post haste.

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Writer and researcher. Constitutional conservatarian with a strong focus on protecting the Second and First Amendments.

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